House Committee on Education and Labor
U.S. House of Representatives

Rep. Howard P. “Buck” McKeon
Ranking Member

Fiscally responsible reforms for students, workers and retirees.



Dear Colleague

May 2, 2007

Vote YES on the Faith-Based Motion to Recommit

Dear Colleague:


Because of a flaw in federal Head Start law, faith-based institutions are forced to relinquish their civil liberties if they choose to participate in the federal early childhood program we are poised to reauthorize today.  A fake faith-based amendment set to be considered later this afternoon applauds these organizations but does nothing to protect faith-based providers’ civil rights.  It’s all words, but no action.

However, at the end of today’s Head Start debate, Members will have an opportunity to consider REAL faith-based protections, through the motion to recommit.  The motion would prevent the federal government from revoking the rights of religious organizations to maintain their character, including through the display of religious symbols on their grounds.

We’ve had this debate many times before on the House floor.  And each time we have had this debate, opponents of faith-based groups’ federally protected right to maintain their religious nature and character through those they hire have dishonestly equated these civil liberties with “discrimination.” 

The 1964 Civil Rights Act makes clear that faith-based groups may serve their communities without being forced to give up the right to employ individuals who share the tenets and practices of their faith.  Were the authors of the Civil Rights Act pro-discrimination?  No.

The United States Supreme Court in 1987 unanimously reaffirmed the hiring rights for faith-based organizations.  Was the Supreme Court pro-discrimination?  No.

Former President Clinton signed four laws explicitly allowing faith-based groups to staff on a religious basis when they receive federal funds.  Was he pro-discrimination?  No.

The motion to recommit we will consider today will be offered in the same spirit as the 1964 Civil Rights Act, the 1987 Supreme Court decision, and President Clinton’s signature.

When the House is given the opportunity to consider REAL faith-based protections for Head Start service providers, we hope you will embrace these civil rights and vote YES on the motion to recommit.

For more information on this motion or the Improving Head Start Act, please contact the Education and Labor Committee Republican staff at x5-6558.


Luis G. Fortuño (R-PR)                                               


Education and Labor Committee


Howard P. “Buck” McKeon (R-CA)

Senior Republican Member

Education and Labor Committee